Lots of builders make compact pontoon boats, but none has taken the concept further than Qwest. In the 20-foot class, big manufacturers such as Sun Tracker (from Bass Pro Shops), Bennington and Lowe don’t even offer a triple-tube model with enough power for all watersports. But Qwest does. The Qwest LS 820 Lanai we tested came equipped with a Gen II triple-tube option ($6,750) that includes a stout aluminum ski tow cage, a rearview mirror, an aluminum underskin, a Power Arch and a 35-gallon fuel tank.
Powering our test boat was a Suzuki SF150 SS that featured a sporty matte black finish and bold graphics. The Suzuki delivered plenty of torque and put the Qwest on plane in 2.7 seconds. It reached 30 mph in 6.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 42 mph.
The LS 820 Lanai achieves great performance and fuel economy thanks in part to lightweight furniture whose seat bases are made from Dura-Lite, a PVC-based composite that’s lighter than roto-molded. It’s also equipped with slightly smaller and lighter 24-inch pontoons that offer plenty of flotation, even when carrying up to 11 people.
Qwest ups the luxe factor with high-backed furniture covered in 33-ounce Comfort Touch linen-textured vinyl, which will keep passengers from sticking to the seats on hot days. The seatback section has a pleated look, and the furniture backs are striped for a cabana-like motif. With its Ultra Flow design, the storage underneath the seats gets plenty of ventilation.
The Qwest LS 820 Lanai is loaded with standard features. Its all-fiberglass driver’s console has a Humminbird Helix 5 color GPS/fishfinder and an Infinity PRV 315 Bluetooth stereo, and nearly half the boat can be bathed in shade by the 9-foot Sur-Last Bimini top. Qwest did away with carpeting years ago, so the standard flooring is Diamond Seagrass vinyl, which looks good and is easy to maintain.
Our test boat featured some well-chosen options, including the six-speaker stereo upgrade ($2,279), which comes with interior blue mood lighting and a washdown. One of the more clever options is a space-saving Refreshment Center ($850) set into the end of the portside layback lounge. The top section is a flip-down table that’s perfect for snack or beverage assembly, with built-in bottle storage, and below it is a pullout drawer that holds a portable cooler.